School district officials in Missouri’s Park Hill School District declined to confirm the petition's contents and when it was posted. Officials also declined to describe any disciplinary action taken in response to the petition.
Officials confirmed to USA TODAY that a “small group” of students from Park Hill South High School were involved in an incident. The school is located in Riverside, Missouri, near Kansas City.
Kerrie Herren, principal at the school, wrote in an email to parents and students last week that school officials found out “about some unacceptable and racist statements that some students posted online during a school-related activity.”
Herren told USA TODAY that a student first reported the incident to him on Thursday. School employees began an investigation the next day.
“We quickly knew that this was going to have a heavy impact on our community, especially our students and especially our families,” Herren said.
“Monday specifically we invited all students to come have lunch with administrators that needed a space to debrief or talk about how they were doing,” he added, noting that school officials also spoke with teachers and staff in response to the incident.
Jeanette Cowherd, superintendent of the Park Hill School District, shared in a message with parents and students on Wednesday that the district does not “tolerate discrimination or harassment,” and that it is following its board of education policies to discipline students.
Terri Deayon, the school district’s director of access, inclusion and family engagement, told USA TODAY that the district is striving “to foster an environment where everyone feels included and valued.”
“Although not the events that we would be advocating for, this is an opportunity for us to listen, an opportunity for us to understand, an opportunity for us to hear about lived experiences from all of the people in our community,” Deayon said.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Missouri students share petition calling for the return of slavery